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Warriors begin search for next coach

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Golden State Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob has never been afraid to take a risk. And he knows his latest move - firing coach Mark Jackson - comes with a lot of risk.

Lacob just believes it's one worth taking.

After jettisoning Jackson on Tuesday, Lacob and general manager Bob Myers moved forward on filling the team's coaching vacancy Wednesday. Lacob said he has no set criteria for his next coach and no timetable to make the hire, but he's counting on the search to attract more candidates - and more top-tier talent - than when he hired Jackson three years ago.

"We do have some ideas of what we want to do," Lacob said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "We will look at all the basic aspects such as basketball experience, and I don't mean coaching necessarily. Someone like Mark Jackson had played 17 years in the NBA, that's a lot of experience. In this case it might be more coaching experience, it might not. We're kind of open to that.

"But it has to be someone with good pedigree, someone who's a leader, someone who can deal with the pressure of a situation. We have been somewhat successful now and want to go to the next level."

The job is certainly a far more attractive one than when Lacob hired Jackson away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. The Warriors are coming off a 51-win season and consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in 20 years, and they've surrounded star Stephen Curry with young talent.

Lacob compared the decision to change coaches to how he built his fortune as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley. He said there's a different person to lead a business at different stages of development, and the Warriors have gone from a "startup" company to an organization looking to maximize its output.

"Or in this case win an NBA championship," he said. "And we just felt overall we needed a different person to go forward and get to the next level."

Where the Warriors go for their next coach is unclear. Lacob and Myers both declined to discuss specific candidates.

Former NBA player and current TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr, who is also a candidate for the New York Knicks job, has close ties to Lacob and Warriors President Rick Welts from Kerr's time as the general manager for the Phoenix Suns. Former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who went to high school in nearby Martinez, California, has been mentioned for multiple openings the past few years but has yet to show a desire to go back to the bench.

If the Warriors look to the college ranks, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut's Kevin Ollie are rising stars in the profession. Lacob, who insisted NBA coaching experience is not a requirement, could also try to make a splash by luring a more tenured coach such as Michigan State's Tom Izzo to the professional ranks. Or, as was the case with Jackson, make another unconventional hire.

The one thing Lacob is banking on is he should have a more wide-ranging field than when he made his first coaching hire as owner. Among the coaches the Warriors reached out to during that search: Jackson, Michael Malone, Mike Brown, Brian Shaw, Dwane Casey, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Budenholzer.

"We think this is a very attractive job," Lacob said. "Compared to three years ago, we have an outstanding organization. Three years ago, not only was the team not winning, but the organization needed a lot of work."

Lacob also understands a new coach comes with the risk of disrupting team chemistry.

Nearly every player publicly called for Jackson to return - most notably Curry, whom Lacob said was told of the decision ahead of time. Lacob said he hopes his ownership group has built enough clout with players and fans since it bought the franchise in 2010 that they will have faith in the decisions management makes.

"I think they have the same goals as us - to win and to achieve a high level of success," Lacob said. "And I think they have to trust us a little bit, that we have the same goals and we're going to do everything we can to bring in the best coach possible and will manage the attributes of each player in a way that will allow us to win as many games as possible."

Fire at rented house of ex-tennis star Blake kills 3

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Firefighters found three bodies in a burning mansion owned by former tennis star James Blake, who was renting out the Tampa Bay-area house and not there at the time, officials said Wednesday.

Hours after the fire was reported about 6 a.m. EDT, firefighters were still there putting out hot spots at the 7,600-square foot home located north of downtown Tampa. It could be days before detectives are able to sift through the charred debris, officials said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nunez said detectives don't yet know the identities of the victims.

Neighbors told detectives that Blake hasn't lived in the house for a while and was renting it out, she said. Detectives haven't talked with Blake, whose agent said he was certain Blake was not in Florida, but he wouldn't say where he was.

"He's not in Florida, I can tell you 100 percent that he's not in Florida," Carlos Fleming told The Associated Press.

Blake bought the home in the Avila subdivision in 2005 for $1.5 million, according to Hillsborough County property records. It had five bedrooms and five bathrooms. Video of the fire showed it totally engulfed in flames.

"It's in the back part of Avila, the million-dollar homes. It's a massive home," said Nacole Revette, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough Fire Rescue.

Avila is an exclusive enclave north of Tampa known for its mansions and heavy security. Many well-known athletes call the community home and over the years, various football, baseball and tennis players have bought homes in the subdivision, which has a country club and golf course.

Blake, 34, was ranked fourth on the ATP world tour in 2006. He also has the James Blake Foundation, an organization dedicated to cancer research, in memory of his father who died of gastric cancer.

Parker's 33 leads Spurs to 116-92 Game 1 win

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tony Parker had 33 points and nine assists and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed in a resounding 116-92 victory over Portland, bullying the younger Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night.

Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and Tim Duncan added 12 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.

More importantly for the Spurs, their bench contributed mightily after being virtually non-existent in the series against Dallas.

Marco Belinelli had 19 points and the Australian connection of Aron Baynes and Patty Mills had 10 points apiece.

The Spurs had their most complete game of the postseason, playing with the flair and fluidity that resulted in the league's best regular season record.

Portland, meanwhile, didn't come close to resembling the confident and sharp-shooting group that upset Houston in the opening round.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 32 points and 14 rebounds and Damian Lillard had 17 points for Portland, but the All-Star duo combined for just 17 points in the first half as San Antonio built a 26-point lead.

Lillard was pushed out of the paint by 6-foot-7 Leonard early in the game and was nearly knocked off his feet defensively by a series of blistering picks.

It wasn't any easier physically for Aldridge, who opened the game shooting 1 for 5 against Tiago Splitter and Baynes.

Splitter had an early steal on a pass to Aldridge and nearly had a second when he poked a dribble away as the 6-11 forward attempted to push his way into the block. Splitter hit the court in a failed attempt to keep the ball from going out of bounds, but it mattered little as the tone had been set for a long night for Aldridge and the Trail Blazers.

Duncan left the game with 4 minutes remaining in the first quarter after picking up two quick fouls, but the Spurs increased their lead in his absence thanks to big bench contributions.

Baynes had an immediate impact after playing only the final 6 minutes of San Antonio's Game 7 victory over Dallas. He scored four points quickly and continued the physical defense against Aldridge that Splitter established.

Belinelli finished 3 for 5 from 3-point range, leading the Spurs' bench to leap to their feet in loud celebration after the Italian guard's struggles in the opening series. After going just 4 for 7 on 3-pointers against Dallas, Belinelli opened the game by hitting his first three attempts from long range.

The Spurs scored the opening eight points from close range as Portland missed its first six attempts from a variety of spots on the court.

Parker, who had 32 points in Game 7 against Dallas, scored 13 points in the first quarter on a series of drives and capped it with a corner 3.

NOTES: San Antonio and Portland had not met in the playoffs since the Western Conference finals in 1999, when Sean Elliott made a dramatic 3-pointer with 9 seconds remaining to win Game 2 and spark a series victory. Dubbed the "Memorial Day Miracle," Elliott made the game-winning shot after catching a pass, turning with his heels hovering above the out-of-bounds line and firing a high-arcing shot over a hard-charging Rasheed Wallace. The Spurs would go on to win their first NBA title that season. . Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen was in attendance as was NBA super fan Jimmy Goldstein, who was dressed in his trademark leather outfit and hat. . Ginobili was issued a technical foul by Tony Brothers after slamming the ball to the court following a traveling violation with 1:23 remaining in the first quarter. . Entering the series opener, Duncan had played as many postseason games (218) as the entire Portland roster.

Wild jump back in series with 4-0 win over Hawks

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund scored goals less than 3 minutes apart early in the third period, and the Minnesota Wild recovered from a sluggish start for a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series.

Ilya Bryzgalov made 19 saves for his first shutout in the playoffs in eight years, and the Blackhawks had their lead whittled to 2-1 with their first loss in 2 1/2 weeks.

Zach Parise put the exclamation point on the win with a power-play goal, the first in 25 chances for the Wild over their last two playoff series against the Blackhawks. Then Granlund tacked on an empty-netter with 1:17 left.

Game 4 is Friday in Minnesota.

Warriors fire coach Mark Jackson after 3 seasons

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Mark Jackson came to the Golden State Warriors talking big and brash. He promised playoff appearances and championships, and he delivered plenty of wins along the way.

Away from the court, though, Jackson never backed down from doing things how he wanted. His inability to mesh with management - and management's inability to mesh with Jackson - increasingly overshadowed his success and ultimately cost him his job.

The Warriors fired Jackson after three seasons Tuesday, ending the franchise's most successful coaching tenure in the past two decades but also one filled with drama and distractions.

"Obviously it was not made exclusively on wins and losses," Warriors owner Joe Lacob said.

Lacob and general manager Bob Myers both thanked Jackson, saying he helped make the Warriors a more attractive franchise. But Myers said the decision to dismiss Jackson was "unanimous" among the team's executives - though still not easy - in part because the Warriors want a coach who can "develop a synergy" with everybody in basketball operations.

Jackson's time with the Warriors will be remembered for the way he helped turn a perennially losing franchise into a consistent winner and the bold and bombastic way in which he did it.

He guaranteed Golden State would make the playoffs in his first season, then finished 23-36 after the NBA labor lockout. The Warriors went 47-35 last season and had a memorable run to the second round of the playoffs, and they were 51-31 this season before losing in seven games to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round.

The Warriors, who have surrounded star Stephen Curry with a talented nucleus since Lacob's group bought the franchise in 2010, had not made the playoffs in consecutive years since 1991-92. They had made the postseason once in 17 years before Jackson arrived.

Lacob compared the decision to replace Jackson to his work as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.

"There's a different CEO that may be required to achieve success at different stages of an organization's development," Lacob said. "When you're a startup company it's one thing, when you're a small-growth company it's one thing and when you're a mature company that's trying to reach a billion in sales - or in this case win an NBA championship - perhaps that's a different person. And we just felt overall we needed a different person."

Lacob and Myers declined to discuss the coaching search, other than to say it would begin immediately. Former NBA player and TNT broadcaster Steve Kerr, former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg and Connecticut's Kevin Ollie have been among the most talked-about candidates this offseason.

The Warriors know a new coach comes with the risk of disrupting team chemistry, especially considering nearly every player publicly called for Jackson to return, most notably Curry, whom Lacob said was told of the decision ahead of time. Myers also spoke to several players after he and Lacob informed Jackson of their decision in a meeting Tuesday morning.

"The hope and belief after talking to them is that they trust us and they believe that we make decisions to win as well," Myers said.

Jackson took to Twitter to thank the organization, players and fans. Several of his present and past players also applauded the job he had done.

Jackson, a former NBA point guard who had his best seasons with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, had never been a head coach at any level when Lacob hired him away from the ESPN/ABC broadcast table in June 2011. A minister who runs a church with his wife near their Southern California home, Jackson often spoke of his Christian beliefs while surprisingly turning the Warriors into one of the NBA's best defensive teams.

But Jackson's boisterous personality at times did not play well with Warriors management, his staff and - to a much lesser extent - his players. And his attitude, which bordered on confidence and cockiness, also came off as increasingly insecure when the team struggled.

The Warriors still stuck by Jackson even when he created news off the court, including when reports surfaced in June 2012 that he and his family were the targets of an extortion attempt related to an extramarital affair he had six years prior, which led to questions about his credibility and morals.

The pressure on Jackson really heated up when the Warriors decided to pick up his contract option for the 2014-15 season last summer instead of negotiating a long-term deal as he had wanted. Management also encouraged Jackson to hire a strong tactician after top assistant Michael Malone - who had several disagreements with Jackson - left to become the coach of the Sacramento Kings.

Instead, Jackson promoted Pete Myers and other assistants and hired Lindsey Hunter and Brian Scalabrine. And while reports of rifts within the team surfaced on occasion, having two assistants dismissed - Scalabrine reassigned to the team's NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz, and Darren Erman fired - in a 12-day span before the playoffs perpetuated the idea that Jackson had fostered an environment of dysfunction, which he repeatedly refuted.

The Warriors also parted ways with all of Jackson's assistants Tuesday.

Several home losses to lesser teams frustrated Lacob more than anything and cost the Warriors a chance to earn anything more than the sixth playoff seed, which they also had a year ago when they upset Denver in the first round before falling to San Antonio. The Warriors still showed a lot of fight - and an ability to make adjustments - with center Andrew Bogut out with a fractured right rib in the playoffs, pushing the third-seeded Clippers to seven games.

"George Karl was Coach of the Year last year and got fired," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Mark Jackson gets a team to multiple playoffs for the first time in a thousand years, and then gets fired. It's our job. It's a tough job, and I think everybody knows it now more than ever."

Bills DL Marcell Dareus arrested in Alabama

HEFLIN, Ala. (AP) A county sheriff's office says Buffalo Bills Pro Bowl defensive lineman Marcell Dareus has been arrested in Alabama on drug charges.

A jailer in Cleburne County in Heflin who would not give her name says Dareus was arrested Monday night by a state trooper and was released from the jail within an hour.

She says he was arrested on a charge of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. She did not have an attorney for him listed or a court date.

Sheriff Joe Jacks also confirmed to WVUA-TV that Dareus was arrested.

Dareus was selected third overall in the 2011 draft and is in his fourth season with the Bills. The 24-year-old played for Alabama.

Last season he had 7.5 sacks and 71 tackles.

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